Archive for July 31st, 2011

Every summer we unveil a new sculpture on the lawn in front of the Evanston Art Center, to inspire us and attract visitors for a whole year.

Gary Orlinsky flew in from the East Coast to install his “Elevated,” a sculpture of wood and industrial plastic, that rises 15 feet and stretches about 30 feet. The materials come from local sources, including the branches and saplings that were gathered on art center grounds after the tornado had swept through only a week earlier.

The artist is a native Chicagoan and named the piece after the Chicago El.  That’s only the name.  Names are not intended to limit the imagination in its chain reaction of associations.  The piece will evoke different associations in different viewers.

When I talked with Gary Orlinsky at the opening, he said he liked making one material look like something else, in this case, wood (painted black) looking like iron.  This is a pre-modernist idea and, in fact, he described himself as a Luddite.  But, actually, his translation of one material into another supports the metaphor I saw.

For me, obsessed with internet issues when I first saw it last week, “Elevated” conjured up associations to the staggering capacity of communication that our technology has facilitated and the questioning of traditional ideologies that these inventions have brought about.  All this is the meeting of axiomatic systems (math) and just physical stuff (copper, sand, etc).  Fiber optic cables are made of silica, which is sand, and the cables in “Elevated” are made of twigs knocked down by winds—just graspable, mundane materials.

I have the privilege of seeing this sculpture every week when I go to teach in that building and on those grounds and I get to contemplate this paradox.  It’s a powerful sculpture.  I only wish it were twice as long.

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.




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